Palembang Chicken Curry


I’m off on holiday for a few weeks – I shall be passing through delightful Singapore for a few days. While the place itself isn’t the most memorable of destinations, the food IS! A mixture of the regions delights and takes its influences from Chinese, Malay, Thai and in this case Sumatran food. It’s amongst my favourite styles of cuisine. There’s something so gratifying in their curries and spiced up salads, to their elaborate soups and laksas. It’s a diverse food which is never dull. I’m really looking forward to gorging myself on it. I made this as both a delicious curry and as a test to see how my cooking stands up to the real thing. I shall let you know. See you in a few weeks.


1.5 kg chicken portions (cut into serving pieces)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper
30 small dried red chillies (soaked for 10 minutes, de-seeded and roughly chopped)
8 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
10 macadamia nuts
400ml coconut milk
2 stalks lemon grass (white part only (lightly bruised with a rolling pin)
5-6 lime leaves
1 heaped teaspoon tamarind paste (diluted with 1/2 cup warm water)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar

Mix together the salt, sugar, vegetable oil and pepper and rub all over the chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is best).

Preheat oven to 220ºC
In a pestle and mortar, grind into a fine paste the chillies, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and macadamia nuts and set aside.

Place the chicken in a lightly oiled roasting tin and roast in the oven for 10 minutes each side until lightly browned. Set aside.

Heat a wok with a little vegetable oil over a moderate heat. Fry the shallot paste, lime leaves, lemon grass for 1 minute then pour in half the coconut milk with 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer moderately for 10 minutes. Add the chicken and any pan juices and the tamarind water and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk and simmer again for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove from the heat, fish out the lemon grass and serve.

Serve with fluffy rice and some fresh cooling cucumber and tomatoes

Image used, with thanks from Kai Hendry at Flickr. 🙂

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